Eating meals at home, compared to restaurants and fast food establishments, means more fiber in our diets, according to a recent report from the USDA based on data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Per 1000 calories, we get about 1.5 grams more fiber from home meals than from restaurant meals.
Americans consume on average 15 grams of fiber per day, less than the recommended 25-30 grams per day. If Americans would eat more fiber, there would be fewer cases of colorectal cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Fiber rich foods include vegetables, fruit, whole grains and legumes.
Eating meals at home only gets us to about 16 grams and eating fast food gets Americans only to 12 grams, so there’s room for improvement overall. Here are three strategies you can use to increase fiber while eating out and you can also them in your kitchen.
Think vegetables and fruit first. When you look at the menu, look for the appetizers, entrees and sides that will include a substantial serving of vegetables and/or fruit. Salads and soups can be one way to add veggies or if sandwiches come with fries or chips, ask for a side salad, fruit or other vegetable instead.
Go for the whole grain. Always ask for the whole wheat bread or wrap (not just “wheat”), corn tortilla or brown rice. Oatmeal is the hot new item for breakfast – that is a perfect way to add a few grams of fiber early in the day.
Choose Beans – small but mighty in fiber. Look for bean or lentil soups, salads with beans, bean burritos or sides like baked beans or black-eyed peas. You can ask for them to be added to veggie soups or to salads. Again – sub them for fries or chips as sides.
Any one of those strategies can mean a difference of 2-3 grams of fiber for your meal. If you can do that at each of your meals – whether home or away – that 6-9 extra grams of fiber per day may just get you to the recommended amount!
The non-communicable diseases in question? Coronary heart disease, Type 2 diabetes … and cancer. Specifically, breast and colon cancers.
All of us at AICR, who have been working to raise awareness about the link between physical activity and lower cancer risk for many years, welcome these papers. It’s gratifying, given the strong evidence presented in the AICR/WCRF expert report and that continues to mount in the AICR/WCRF Continuous Update Project (CUP), to finally see cancer taking its place alongside heart disease and diabetes on such a high-profile list.
Last year, at the AICR Annual Research Conference, we released estimates of the number of US cancers linked to inactivity. There are several ways to calculate such estimates, and the Lancet team used different statistical methods to arrive at their numbers, but the results are strikingly similar, and make it clearer than ever that being inactive has a major impact on cancer, on par with obesity and smoking. Continue reading →
Last week on our blog, Dr. Kate Wolin talked about screening for preventing two of the leading causes of cancer deaths in men. Guys, in addition to screenings there’s more you can do: Take charge and reduce your cancer risk (and other chronic diseases) before and after you go for those screenings.
Get moving. Physical activity reduces risk for colorectal cancer and it’s a lot more fun than a colonoscopy. Dust off the old tennis racquet, invest in a good pair of running shoes or take the family to the park and break out the Frisbee and football.
Eat more fruit. Watermelon, red grapefruit and guavas (also tomatoes, especially sauce and juice) are great choices because they contain a carotenoid called lycopene. Foods with lycopene can help reduce risk of prostate cancer. And fruits in general help lower risk for lung and oral cancers.
Lose the Spare Tire.Too much body fat ups your risk for colorectal, esophageal, kidney, pancreatic and gallbladder cancers. And, that expanding waist adds risk for some cancers and for type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Start with one change, like cutting your sugary beverages in half or filling half your plate with non-starchy vegetables first (think carrots, spinach or bell peppers). Then add a new healthy eating challenge each week. For ideas check out our 12-week New American Plate Challenge program.
Be Smart about Alcohol. Too much beer, wine or liquor and you’ve added more risk for colorectal, oral, esophageal and liver cancers. If you drink, limit yourself to no more than 2 drinks a day.
Whether you’re a dad, uncle, grandfather, son or nephew, taking care of yourself means you’re more likely to be able to take care of those who depend on you better and longer. Just a few simple steps can make all the difference.